Sep 252017
 

Summer months have ended; people came back to work and school. Step by step everyone returns to their routine, working, relaxing, reading some books…. Autumn is actually the best season for book retailers.

Falling leaves remind me of good times, and they also symbolize a change. So why not changing something in my marketing strategy? Why not try something new to finally boost the sales of the University of Solitude?

 

Learning from the successful

I’ve been working on a new income model in the sphere of internet marketing lately (related to paid traffic), experimenting, analyzing, creating new content, and reading.

I believe that we should learn from the successful. If you want to achieve something, you should look for inspiration in someone who has already achieved the feat…. And so I’ve been reading blogs of internet marketers who specialize in paid traffic campaigns and affiliate marketing, and who do nothing else for living.

I do not want to talk about their income model (you can research it if you want). Everything relates to everything, however, and while reading about affiliate marketing, and doing some experiments, I learned one important lesson. It has showed me why we don’t sell many copies of the book right now, why the landing page of University of Solitude doesn’t convert well.

 

Consistent sales funnel

Let’s imagine you promote a general dating site, and your audience is Chinese men in their thirties/forties (you can own the dating site, or just promote it as a marketer who drives in leads, and earns commission for every sign up, ranging from five to hundred dollars….).

You make a banner with a nice Chinese girl (in her thirties, real looking, perhaps you get a picture from another dating site, or purchase one to play safe), you pay for the placement (Google Adwords, native ads networks, FaceBook users who fit your criteria, you name it.…), and link the banner to a pre-lander you created on your own website.

You write something catchy on the banner, for example “All the hottest Chinese ladies in their thirties use this site!”

(Since your target audience consists in Chinese men in their thirties/forties, you try to show on the banner something they are likely seeking).

So people click on the banner, land on a nice pre-lander, and read some fake reviews you posted there for a sake of promoting the dating website. Something like “My name is Kim and I’ve met my soulmate on this website, blah blah.” Again you download some realistic looking picture of a Chinese couple, post it next to the review … you know the tricks they use, don’t you?

Some people will believe your words, and click on an affiliate link that you posted on your pre-lander. The click sends them to the landing page of a dating website you promote.

Would you believe if I told you that I actually knew this girl?

And, tadadada: They see a nice sign up form, and a picture of a hot, young Russian blonde!

All good? Actually not….

Most of the people you sent to the dating site will leave immediately—because hot Russians are not what they were looking for when they noticed the banner, clicked it, read your pre-lander, and clicked the affiliate link…. So you’d just waste your money in this campaign :).

Anyway, this is a classic example of sales funnel (in)consistency. If you want your visitors to convert, you need to stay consistent from the first moment to the last. In our example, a Chinese girl in her late twenties/thirties would do the trick, and some people would definitely sign up to the dating site, and you would make money.

Then it’s just a question of optimizing the campaign, and paying less for the traffic that you actually earn from commissions (which isn’t easy to achieve at all, and 95 out of 100 people fail to do so, but the best affiliates in dating industry, those who experimented enough, optimized enough,  and had some guts to not always play by the rules, earn over $1,000 in profit per day….).

 

My campaigns were inconsistent

Our landing page couldn’t really convert simply because my campaigns were inconstant. I managed to get traffic from various sources (Google organic, YouTube referral, Comments referral, Reditt, paid campaigns, banner campaigns on my own websites, etc–just read the articles on the blog to see), but I never really stayed consistent.

I always motivated people with an inspirational story, or something great to read, often, in my videos and comments, I told that they should come to the website to READ the story.

Once they came, however, ready to read, all they found was a sales page, full of all kind of information (about me, the book, the website, blah blah—pretty much useless info for someone who came to read an inspirational story), and a very short excerpt—the prologue, which isn’t that inspirational, or interesting, at least not when compared to other chapters in the book.

Buy now button, book trailer, strange picture, cookies notice–many disturbing elements if you came just to read some inspirational story….

I made a mistake—I skipped the entire pre-selling stage, and I didn’t deliver on my promise. Logically, most people simply left the website, just as the Chinese guys would leave the lander with Russian blonde.…

 

More content to read, page simplified

Following the discovery, I made changes to the landing page. I made them today. I simplified the text, deleted some sections altogether, and shortened the rest. I even deleted the menu and the principal picture, together with the “buy now” button.

What I added, however, are three chapters from the book, very easy to find on page.

The Introduction (2nd Chapter), Desolation And Disillusionment (6th Chapter), and Stories Of Others: The Captain (9th Chapter)—all of them in their entirety.

The links to the chapters are right on top, so people will easily find them, and aren’t disturbed by other buttons or elements on the lander.

If a person looking to read an inspirational story, a true story, or perhaps a philosophy novel, come to our new landing, they should not be disappointed. They have a chance to read something without paying a dime, and, at least I believe so, they’ll find inspiration and interesting thoughts in the three chapters, even if they eventually don’t purchase the book.

But obviously if they like the chapters, and what the book has to offer, some of them will purchase it.

 

Selling the book directly on page

If you have read my case study about cracking the best seller list on Amazon, or the one about promoting the book with the Amazon ads program, you already know a few reasons why it doesn’t really matter if you are on Amazon. But there is one reason that tops everything else:

If you sell on Amazon, you won’t ever see the contact details of your readers. Amazon not only takes the bigger part of money, they also bombard your readers with book suggestions, and other crappy emails on a weekly basis. They try to milk them :).

Now wait a second: You wrote a book, you invested time and money in the marketing, you struggled to build your brand, and than it is AMAZON who is repeatedly making money from the people who bought your work of art. Ouch!

When you sell the book directly on your own platform, everything changes….

  • You don’t receive just the royalty, but the entire purchase price (minus a small commission your payment processor will deduce from every payment you receive)
  • You see an email address of each single customer who purchases your book. This customer is your reader, a person who can give you some valuable feedback, you can suggest new titles to them, you can even encourage them to recommend your book further. Simply you can communicate with them, since you know who they are.

If you sell on Amazon, however, you won’t be able to do anything of that, since you do not know who purchased your book. You make your small sales commission, and that’s the end of the story…. It’s Amazon who will continue milking the readers of your book. 🙂

 

 

How difficult it is to start selling books on your own page?

If you use WordPress, it’s a question of an hour.

I used a plugin called WordPress iSell on the landing page of the University of Solitude, but I am also using Paid downloads (the free version) on other websites I own.

The first plugin is very simple, and I decided to give it a go because a developer of Paid Downloads hasn’t updated his plugin in years…. On the other hand, Paid Downloads offers more options, you can customize things nicely with them, so it’s up to you to choose.

Paid downloads plugin is amazing, and I can’t thank Ivan Churakov enough for developing it, but he hasn’t updated the plugin for five years, which will, sooner or later, lead to compatibility issues….

 

You should be able to find similar plugins for each content management system (but most likely they won’t be free—that’s why I love WP so much, becasue you can find a good free plugin for just about anything), or you can implement solutions that PayPal offers on their websites (this will work if you are on a a custom-coded website, not using any CMS).

What else will you need?

  • A PayPal account, with a verified credit/debit card
  • An accountant, or an accounting strategy

From a legal point of view, selling books on Amazon is much easier, since you just invoice Amazon and that’s it. Selling eBooks to people from all corners of the world, and complying with the laws in your country at the same time, can be tricky….

Nevertheless, if you don’t sell in quantities, and if it isn’t your core business, you can typically get away with it classifying the income as secondary or occasional, pay taxes on it and not need any further reporting.

(Please consult an accountant or legal specialist before proceeding. This blog is not intended for legal advice, and the laws differ from country to country)

 

Adding author’s bio to your articles

People come to your website from all kind of places. They may, as well as not, know that it is YOU standing behind the content.

Adding a simple author’s bio at the end of every article helps to build your brand as a writer, or a blogger. A simple plugin will do the trick. I used DT author Box for this purpose, but feel free to research WordPress plugin directory to pick your favorite.

 

 

This is not necessarily a final version of the book cover, but I like it….

New book, personal website, documentary in progress….

I’ve been working on many things lately.

My second book, called The Outsider, will be proofread in the upcoming weeks, and I hope to publish it before the 30th November.

I have also started a new website, with my bio, books, and some other sections–you would probably call it “a personal presentation”. The website has no traffic at the moment, and I haven’t tried getting any yet, but imagining the bigger picture, I can see how we use this parrticular website in the future.

We’ve also progressed (a little) with the documentary movie project…. But this post is long enough already, so I’ll write more about the other projects in the next post.

 

 

 

 

Summary

  • Try to keep your sales funnel consistent, from the first ad/banner to the last order/thank you page.
  • Selling books on your own platform has countless advantages to selling them on Amazon. And it can be setup within hours. If you are serious about your writing, and plan publishing more books, you should give it a try.
  • Add author bio to all articles on your blog. It’s a simple yet powerful brand building tool, especially if your blog/website gets a lot of organic traffic.
  • Your website can be the most beautiful in the world, but if it doesn’t convert your traffic, it is useless. Experiment, innovate, and always look for a way to improve on both your traffic and conversion rate.

That’s it for now friends. Enjoy the colors of autumn, and I see you soon with next post!

Matej      

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Written by Matej Valuch

Matej Valuch

Having succeeded in building residual income from the network of content-rich websites, Matej currently devotes nearly all his time to non-profit projects, mostly in the spheres of philosophy, start-up, and writing. Sharing real marketing studies and experiments with his audience, Matej tries to help other writers and marketers to succeed with their projects.

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